Paintings            GARY BARTEN
Windows Towards Winter - Fallen Leavesdetail -  Windows Towards Winter - Fallen LeavesWindows Towards Winter - Southern Light detail -  Windows Towards Winter - Southern LightWindows Towards Winter - Shorter Days detail -  Windows Towards Winter - Shorter Days Study for Windows Towards Winterdetail - Study for Windows Towards WinterStudy #2 for Windows Towards Winter
Windows Towards Winter
Since leaving Chicago for the west coast in the early 1980’s I have mostly lived in the warmth of California and snowy, cold weather was assiduously avoided. Now that we have moved to Santa Fe on the high New Mexico plateau, winter has returned as an experience which needs to be re-encountered with the idea of reaching a different understanding and even appreciation for it.

Painting is about light and space. The radiance of snow is winter’s spotlight. Its glare is infamous for “snow-blindness.” But, a gift that snowfall and clear cold skies produces is that of an astonishing clarity into the near and far of winter landscapes. While the clarity of these clear cold days invites exploration to range out into the cold, for me this is always a somewhat threatening situation. Like swimming across in a lake, how far do you go safely before the possibilities of tiring and even drowning become a desperate reality.

Years ago, on the way from St. Louis to Chicago in an unheated car during winter, I experienced the beginnings of hypothermia and the recollection of a dire helplessness still resonates somewhere in my memory banks. So, the space of winter, while brilliant and vast has remained a less than welcoming prospect for me. How does one paint the light and come to an understanding in more open terms of the space of winter as well?

Windows. Working from the shelter of indoors and letting the frame of the window limit the peripheral range while still exploring an ambiguous and even inviting exterior winter space is the primary tactic I have chosen for these paintings. As late fall gives way to wind and colder temperatures, looking out of windows on frosty mornings, at blustery gusts through the trees and scrub in the bright noon light, and spotting the first stars in the east, the space of these colder days moves by us. The vantage point for these paintings remains warm, while the outside transforms slowly into a cold and dormant world.
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